Continuing with the list of Random Things I'm Thankful For in 2010 (don't worry, it's almost over...), or what I like to call LOFTY 2010, until someone else blows me away with something better. These aren't in any order as far as importance, I just wrote them as they came to me.
Now...on with the thanksgivingfulness...
#41 - Thanks, Peter Jackson, for Turning my Favorite Books into a Great Film Trilogy
It would have been SO easy for the movies based on the J.R.R. Tolkien classic trilogy of books 'The Lord of the Rings' to be a load of total, unadulterated crap on a stick. I mean, a bunch of hairy-footed little people running around searching for a magic ring, with elves and goblins and wizards and dwarves and some mostly naked thing speaking in hisses and eating raw fish?
Yeah...in the wrong hands, it could have just turned into something so utterly horrible and unwatchable and been the most laughable thing in the universe, as so many fantasy films of the past have been.
But this went way beyond expectation.
These weren't just great fantasy films...they were great FILMS. Academy Award winning films, as a matter of fact. They were films my WIFE actually enjoys watching, again and again. And as a kid, having read the books over and over and over, it was like seeing your imagination come to life on the screen.
They were so good in fact, that even though I knew the story, I still reacted as if I didn't. And I'll even go a step further and to a place a lot of the 'purists' don't go. The films are an IMPROVEMENT over the storytelling of the books. Not the other way around.
And did I mention that they SMOKED the Star Wars prequels in every conceivable way possible, showing that you can have a huge, CGI-laden film and still have emotional, character-driven performances?
Now...we can only hope The Hobbit is half as good.
#42 - Thanks, Mr. Nolan, for a Batman Film that will Probably Never be Topped
And although a lot of that has to do with the late Heath Ledger, a lot of it does not. You could still slide another actor into that role and still, MAYBE, have as good a film. I'm not saying it would be the exact same experience, there's no way we can ever really know that, because that isn't the way Time works, but there are other great actors in the universe.
My point is that nothing is dependent on ONE man to make a film work. It takes a group of people. And the group of people who came together to make The Dark Knight just all seemed to fire on the same cylinder at the same moment to create what is, in my opinion, a masterpiece in the Bat-Universe that I do not think will ever be equaled.
It's sad but true. Because as great as The Dark Knight is/was, that means that it is always going to be downhill from here.
I could be wrong. I certainly hope that I am. But I'm probably not.
That's OK with me, don't get me wrong. The Star Wars Universe was and never will be as good as it was when I saw The Empire Strikes Back for the very first time. It's been a downhill ride ever since. That doesn't mean I haven't had some great Star Wars moments since, cause I have.
I'm just realistic. And The Dark Knight is The Empire Strikes Back of the Batman Universe.
#43 - Thanks Zack Snyder, for Helping Me Name My Kid
I was already familiar with the story of King Leonidas of Sparta, who was known for his leadership at the famous Battle of Thermopylae where he, along with 300 of his Spartiates and other Greek soldiers, fought against the invading Persian armies of Prince Xerxes. Leonidas refused to yield, refused to give in, and although his sacrifice didn't have immediate positive consequences for his people, his actions do have great historical significance.
The Battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the power of free men protecting their native soil, and it has also become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.
I had convinced Jennifer to allow me to have Carter have the middle name of Maximus, though I had been unable to convince her to have Maximus be Carter's first name. I was close, but not close enough. She couldn't wrap her head around it, but she was OK with Maximus as a middle name. (I originally wanted his name to be Maximus Tiranus Lilly, how COOL would that have been, after the actual Maximus of Hispania, a real historical figure...but she just looked at me and said 'You're weird.')
When it came time to choose a name for Bennett, I got lucky. I loved Frank Miller's interpretation of the Battle of Thermopylae and King Leonidas in his graphic novel called '300', and fortunately, earlier in 2007 (the year Bennett was born) Zack Snyder's film adaptation of '300' had come out, and Jennifer had seen it and actually LIKED it.
So I lobbied hard for Leonidas, and when Bennett was lying in the NICU, I reminded Jennifer about Spartan children, and the fact that the real-life Leonidas was one of the few Spartan Kings who, because he was not an actual true 'heir', had to attend the 'agoge', the harsh physical training school that all Spartan males had to endure in order to qualify for Spartan citizenship.
The name was a symbol for courage and fighting against impossible odds, and it was a perfect fit for our son, and for us, and Jen could see that too. I don't think she would have, though, had it not been for the film.
But she still wouldn't budge on letting that be his FIRST name. Dammit. :)
#44 - Thanks Again, Zack Snyder, for Helping Me Get Jen Past her Zombie Racism
Jennifer is a Zombie Racist.
She hates Zombies. Hates Zombie movies. Finds Zombies and their behavior super-duper disgusting.
I, on the other hand, loves me them Zombies. I love the concept of the Zombie Apocalypse and the storytelling possibilities it allows. What is best about it is, of course, because the Zombies are totally irrelevant. It doesn't matter that there are Zombies outside trying to eat you. It could be wolves, or Aliens, or Vampires, or hell, if you saw The Road, a bunch of cannibalistic people like you or me.
What matters most about the Zombie Apocalypse film is the way The Living treat The Living. That's what usually turns the table on the story, at least in all the really GOOD Zombie Apocalypse stories.
The problem is, that most Zombie movies suck.
Let's be honest. Production quality on Zombie films, for the most part, is low budget. Typically, for the most part, you don't see a lot of 'name' (in other words 'good') actors involved in. And hey...I loved the Romero films as much as the next guy, but let's be honest, even in the great ones like 'Night of' or 'Dawn of' or 'Day of', the grey-skinned Zombies are...cheesy. Especially the Hare Krishna one.
But I understand the reasons. And I still love those films. And 'Land of' isn't THAT bad.
I don't know how I did it, I think I won a bet, but I finally got Jennifer to watch Zack Snyder's re-make of Dawn of the Dead. I say 're-make' very, very loosely, because it didn't really have much in common with the original other than the fact that it was set in a Mall. And while I don't like fast zombies, I did like the performances, some of the plot twists, and of course the way The Living treated The Living, which drove a lot of the story.
To me, it was a really well-made Zombie movie, one that I thought might finally cure Jennifer of her Zombie Racism. And lo and behold, it actually did. And am I THRILLED that it did, because without you, Zack, there is no way in hell that my wife would be watching The Walking Dead with me on Sunday nights.
#45 - Thanks Yet Again, Zack Snyder, for Filming the So-Called Un-Filmable Graphic Novel
And doing a damn good job with it. I disagree with anyone who says otherwise. I think Watchmen is not only a great film, I think it is in many ways better than its source material AS A FILM. No, it is not better than the graphic novel. But in film form, it is superior. Does that make any sense? Probably not.
My point is, that as a film, Watchmen works better as it is than it would have if you followed the book more closely. Again, I use my wife as a test for anything like this. Any kind of 'genre' film or TV show...if my wife sits down and watches it with me and ENJOYS it, then you have succeeded tenfold.
Because you have crossed the boundary from appealing to just my Geek Brethren and you have now appealed to Everyman...well, in her case Everywoman, (or Everyhottie) and created something that non-Geeky people the world over can enjoy.
And now I don't have to explain what this book is that I pull out every once in a while that has giant yellow text on it with a giant smiley face on it that has a drop of blood on it. And that makes my life that much easier. And I like having life be that much easier.
So thanks...yet AGAIN.
One last thing though. Zack..., or Mr. Snyder, I guess I should be calling you. Clearly I respect you. Obviously I like...no...LOVE, your work, with deep appreciation, enough to have you appear THREE times, in a row, in my List O' 50.
Please don't fuck up Superman.